Why do will disputes happen?
A will is a document that outlines the deceased’s last wishes. Courts often scrutinize wills closely to ensure there are no issues. However, there may be reasons to invalidate a will.
A will dispute could make probate take longer, but it may be necessary. Here are a few reasons a will might be contested:
A testator’s last wishes might have been similar for many years. However, right before their passing, they may have made drastic changes to their will that benefit one person, such as a caretaker, power of attorney or guardian. This may have happened because of undue influence. Undue influence is the attempt to persuade someone for personal gain, which can lead to will disputes.
The executor and probate court evaluate the authenticity of a will. If it appears that the most recent will has strange handwriting, wordage or signature, it could be a forgery. A will dispute could happen if a will is clearly forged.
For a will to be valid, there must be two witnesses who don’t benefit from an estate. Witnesses are important so that it’s clear the testator is in sound mind and not pressured into signing the will. Without the witnesses, there may be grounds to contest the will.
Problems with the executor
The executor of the estate is typically assigned by the testator. The role of the executor is important, but it’s not meant for everyone. If the executor fails their fiduciary duty, there may be reason to contest the will and assign a new executor.
Many people make multiple wills. When a new will is made, the old one should be discarded. If a will isn’t discarded and it’s unclear which will came first, then it can create issues for beneficiaries.
If you believe that it’s necessary to contest a will or a will you’re benefiting from is facing a dispute, it may benefit you to reach out for legal help.